Smiles, Tears, Getting on. (Prose)

A poem by John Hartley

Smiles are things aw like to see, an'. they're noa less acceptable becoss sometimes ther's a tear or two. A chap at's a heart ov a reight sooart under his waistcoit cannot allus be smilin'. Awve met a deal o' sooarts o' fowk i' my bit o' time, an' th' best aw iver met had a tear i' ther ee nah an' then. If ther's owt aw hate to see, its a chap at's allus smilin'; an' if iver yo meet sich a one set him daan to be awther a haufthick or a hypocrite - yo'll be sure to be reight. It'll be time enuff to be allus grinnin' when all th' warkhaases an' th' prisons are to let - when lawyers have to turn farmers, an' bumbaileys have to emigrate - when yo connot find a soldier's or a policeman's suit ov clooas, except in a museum - when ther's noa chllder fun frozen to th' deeath o' London Brig - an' when poor fowk get more beef an' less bullyin'. If iver sich a time comes woll aw live, aw'll laff wi' th' best on em, but till then a claad sometimes will settle on mi here, - an awm glad 'at it is soa.

Aw niver see a chap 'at's tryin to get on but what he reminds me ov once gooin to a Baptist chapel to see a lot o' fowk kursened. Everybody wor feightin' for th' front pews, an' them 'at gate 'em had to haddle e'm an' net be perticular abaat ther shirt collar - an' when a chap starts aat for a front place i' this life he has to rough it, an' if he succeeds aw wonder sometimes if he's ony better off nor them 'at gate th' front seeats i'th' chapel, for all 'at wor behund 'em seem'd to be tryin' to shove 'em ovver into th' bottom, an' nah an' then aw noaticed odd uns 'at could bide noa longer, an' gave up th' spot they'd fowt soa hard to get, an' sombdy behund, 'at had hardly tewd a bit dropt into th' seat. And sich is life: it isn't allus th' workers 'at succeed, net it marry! its th' skeeamers! it's them 'at keeps ther een oppen. But aw con allus thoil 'em owt they get, if, when they're climbin' up th' stee, they niver put ther heel on another chap's neck, by traidin' on his fingers, to mak him lawse his hold. It's a wrang nooation 'at some fowk have getten, to "get brass honestly if yo can, an' if yo cannot, try to keep a easy conscience, an' do baat it." Some chaps 'll niver get on; they're allus gooin' to mend, but they niver start. Sich like should tak a pattern throo th' Almenack makkers - they've lost eighteen haars this last three years, an' if they didn't mind they'd loise six mooar this time, but they tak care net to do soa, - they shove a day extra into February to mak it up, and they call it "leap year," and it ud be a rare gooid job if fowk wod tak a few laups this year; - laup aat o'th' alehouse on to th' hearthstun at home - laup aat o' bed i' time for th' church ov a Sunday momin' - laup aat o' th' clutches o' th' strap shop - laup aat o' th' gate o' bad company - laup up to yo're wark wi' a smile, an' laup back hooam wi' it, an' yo'll find th' wife's heart ul laup wi joy to see yo comin' back cheerful, an' th' childer ul laup on to yo'r knee, an' yo'll be capt ha easy it'll be to laup over ony bits o' trouble 'at yo' meet wi'. But alus laup forrard if it's possible; for if yo try to laup backards yo'll run th' risk o' braikin yo'r neck, an' noabody pities them 'at laups aat o' th' fryin' pan into th' fire, an' it's a easy matter to miss it. - Aa dear o' me! aw think it is! - and yo'd think soa if yo'd seen what aw saw once. A mate o' mine courted a lass, an' he'd monny a miss afore he gat throo wi it. He used to go an' tawk to her throo a brokken window 'at ther wor i' th' weshhaase, an' one neet shoo'd promised to meet him thear, an' he wanted to kuss her as usual, but he started back. "Nay, Lucy," he said, "aw'm sure thar't nooan reight. Has ta been growin' a mustash?" Mew! mew! it went; an' he fan aat he'd kuss'd th' owd Tom cat. When th' neighbours gate to know, they kursened him "Kusscat," an' they call him soa yet. But that worn't all; for when he went to get wed he wor soa flustered woll he stood i' th' wrang place, an' when th' time coom for him to put th' ring on, he put it on th' woman next to him - he thowt it didn't mean, for he cud get it swap'd after, but when it wor ovver they all began to find aat ther'd been a mistak. "Why, Kusscat," said one, "what's ta been doin'? Tha' s getten wed to thi mother." Th' parson look'd glum, but he said, "It's noa use botherin' nah, its too lat, you should ha' spokken afoor - an' aw think he's fittest to be wi' his mother." But he roar'd like a bull, an' begged th' parson to do it ovver, an' do it reight; but Lucy said, "He'd noa cashion, for shoo'd live an' dee an owd maid for iver afoor shoo'd have ony chap second hand." But her heart worn't as hard as shoo thowt, soa, shoo gave in, an' th' next time they managed better.

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